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tv   Nightline  ABC  March 7, 2011 11:35pm-12:00am EST

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[ ding ] .ers tonight on "nightline," post modern family. it's a controversial reality tv hit. one man, his four wives and their 16 children living openly, very openly as polygamists despite the threat of criminal charges. we go behind the scenes of "sister wives." after fleck's passion. ben roethlisberger's obsessions may include acting, drenging and his movie star wife, but there's something else and tonight he's talking about it. and sheen-anomics. he's twitter's new darling. can he cash in? what's a tweet is worth, whether
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his or yours? good evening i'm terry moran. we'll begin tonight with a clash between lifestyle and the law. polygamy is illegal in all 50 states considered immoral in the west for centuries and yet -- and yet a small number of american men still take multiple wives. that's what cody brown did and then he took an even more unusual step. he made his big family the subject of a reality tv show. "sister wives," the added twist in this drama is the browns now face criminal prosecution based on the evidence in every episode. here's dan harris. >> reporter: cody brown and his four wives mary, janelle, christine and robin say they knew they were taking a risk when they and their 16
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children -- >> she's a sister from the same mister and he's the brother from another mother. >> reporter: decided to become public polygamists. >> i just fell in love and then i fell in love again and i fell in love again. >> reporter: i met them right as their reality show called "sister wives" was about to go on the air on tlc. featuring an in-depth look at the big house they all share together. >> we have three separate apartments in one big house. >> reporter: an open discussion about cody sleeping with a different wife every night. >> he's lost every morning. >> reporter: sure enough just days after the series began, the police announced they were investigating cody brown for bigamy. >> this morning police are investigating the family at the center of a controversial new reality show. >> reporter: this sunday season two of "sister wives" kicks off and it follows the family as they absorb the news that police are investigating. >> monday night we got word that
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police department is doing an investigation into the family and just to see if we are charged with bigamy. >> reporter: today the browns were back in new york city and i sat down with them once again and for the first time they discussed at length the impact that the possible criminal charges has had on their family. >> it is a possibility you could be arrested, charged, prosecuted and in a worst case scenario for you taken away from your family. are these things that you think about frequently? >> when you ask the question, my heart starts pounding in my chest and it -- my -- i get nervous. >> reporter: they insist it is worth the risk because they want to create a future where other families like theirs can come out of the shadow. >> i grew up hiding who i was and not being able to claim who my father was. >> reporter: you couldn't say who your dad was. >> she's very proud of him. >> reporter: and you don't want
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your kids to have that problem? >> nope, because he's a great guy. >> reporter: speaking of the kids, i mean this appears to have been a very stressful situation for the kid. there's a keen in the first episode where one of your daughters says, one of my friends at school asked me today, is your dad going to prison. >> he was asking if my dad was going to jail today. >> reporter: how do you manage the anxiety this inevitably creates for your kids. >> positive mental attitude. >> yeah. >> i mean as with any teenager, any family, we just talk to our kids a lot and say, this was something that we all talked about, that we knew was a possibility. >> reporter: there have been economic consequences for the family, as well. you had a job that you loved. what happened when you came out as a polygamist? >> yeah, my job, i absolutely loved and when i came out as a polygamist and, you know, became publ public, i was fired. that being said, some of my
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friends there that had no idea have been extremely supportive of me and we are still friends. >> reporter: in no small measure because of these economic troubles and the continuing potential for criminal charges, the browns and their 16 children have now moved out of utah to las vegas. they could still file charges no matter where you move. >> i guess. >> whatever, i don't care. >> we don't know. >> they didn't -- and we went to vegas with hopes of just having a good life. >> reporter: and while their tv show has caused problems for them, it has also created opportunities. the ratings are very strong apparently people like having this window into a very unusual family who are willing to discuss their lifestyle freely and with a sense of humor. >> how was your first day? >> mommy. >> reporter: you don't have a lot of moments of what am i doing here? what kind of decisions have i made in my life? >> only when they're all mad at
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me. >> he's got like two of us that are, two of us that respect or one of us -- >> reporter: those are not good odds. >> it's rare to have all four of us mad at him at the same time but it's also really var for all of us not to be mad at him. >> every relationship has those ups and downs. cody just unfortunately is sometimes in the doghouse a little more than most men would be. >> reporter: so here's the tough question. honestly do you think that people are watching because they want to have their eyes and minds open or are they watching for the spectacle of it. >> yes. >> reporter: yes what? >> both. >> who knows why people tune in. >> i'm sure they start out -- i'm sure they start out with kind of just curiosity. >> but there's somebody that they can -- most people can relate to. >> a lot of people are turning on to tuning in to see a train wreck potentially and i think that every day they see a fender
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bender. >> reporter: one issue the sister wives readily admit to struggling with is jealousy. >> this is nice. >> reporter: today we watch them decide who gets to ride with cody in a horse-drawn carriage through central park by playing rock paper scissors. >> one, two, three. >> rock, rock. >> mary and i are together and you three are together. >> reporter: at the end of season one, robin comes on to the scene. >> uh-huh. >> reporter: there were some jealousy issues which i know surprised some of the other sister wives. how is that situation now? >> much better. >> much better. >> jealousy issues is just something that comes with the territory and we just work through it and it just makes me a better person. >> robin's integrating into the family. it doesn't feel like so much like she's separate anymore. i mean it feels now like she was always there. she's -- yeah, i mean it's like it doesn't feel so much like we're trying to shove something
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in and it doesn't disrupt as much anymore because it's -- we are a family now. >> reporter: interestingly the browns say having a tv show during which they're forced to sit on a couch and discuss their issues in front of cameras has actually made the family dynamic better by improving everybody's communication skills. and they continue to believe that despite all the problems, the show has created for them, it will ultimately benefit them and all other polygamist families by showing their fellow americans that they are not so different after all. >> hi. hi. you see us now how we really are and now you have to go, wow, that is a functional family. that guy's hair is really creepy, i know, but he loves those kids. he treats them kindly. >> reporter: for "nightline," this is dan harris in new york. >> well, the utah prosecutors' office tells us the browns are currently still under
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investigation. "sister wives" airs sunday on tlc. check your local listings and thanks to dan harris for that report. when we come back, we're going to talk with ben affleck about his favorite work outside acting. my cream is what makes stouffer's fettuccini alfredo so delicious. my peppers and broccoli... they really make the dish. cream is really what makes it. i think you'll find it's the vegetables. the crunch... the texture. deliciously rich. delicious. fantastic! flavorful. [ cow moos ] hey, maybe we could... work together? [ female announcer ] introducing new stouffer's farmers' harvest. now classics like grilled chicken fettuccini alfredo come with sides of farm-picked vegetables... lightly sauteed with herbs and olive oil. and no preservatives. find more ways to get to the table at sleep is here, on the wings of lunesta. and if you wake up often in the middle of the night... rest is here, on the wings of lunesta.
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just stay off the freeways, all right? i don't want you going out on those yet. and leave your phone in your purse, i don't want you texting. >> daddy... ok! ok, here you go. be careful. >> thanks dad. >> and call me--but not while you're driving. we knew this day was coming. that's why we bought a subaru. winner ben affleck has made has been a big success but lately he seems to have bucked a cycle of movie star ups and downs and set his gaze on broader horizons. among them his directorial work, his marriage and his time with the people of the congo. here's jake tapper with the "nightline" interview.
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>> reporter: somebody is going to turn on the tv and see you, ben affleck, talking about congo and might you know better as "daredevil" or perhaps "owe banyan". ♪ no more mr. nice guy they turn on the tv and see this actor talking about congo and think, click, why should they not click? >> because it's not about me. you know, it's really not about ben affleck, why should i listen to ben affleck. you shouldn't. i get it. i'm sort of a vessel essentially in this context. trying to direct people's attention to something that, you know, in all humility they should listen to. >> reporter: he is well aware of the skepticism you may have. >> perhaps it's a sad reflection on what it takes to get this kind of thing off the ground. i mean we're a culture that's very heavily celebrity focused. >> reporter: it's the same skepticism felt by cindy mccain, the wife of the republican presidential nominee and the noted philanthropist whom affleck called earlier this year. >> so, yes, i was skeptical.
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my past experiences with other folks in the same perhaps arena had not been good. it hadn't been heart felt parachute photo-op. >> i hope she would be skeptical. that's good judgment frankly to be skeptical of hollywood when they call. >> reporter: but mccain went with affleck to congo where her skepticism vanished. there they met many people benefits from grants from affleck's nonprofit. schools. ♪ christine, a young girl who was a victim of congo's epidemic of rape and sexual violence. now healing at a hospital funded in part by affleck's group. >> she picked me up. >> reporter: shushu training new women journalists. >> it's that means of communicate hag is most powerful. because part of this issue of rape and dehumanizing women has really taken such deep hold, a
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way of getting underneath of that and trying to beat that is for people to hear women's voices. >> everybody knew about gash aren't and innocent, 12-year-old boy who went through an arts program and won superstar. >> innocent. >> innocent. >> reporter: an idea american idol"-like contest. >> he captivated the country. when he finally won -- ♪ now, in this city that's known war and suffering and volcanos and there's people out in the street, fill the streets, a 12-year-old kid from their city won a singing contest. ♪ >> reporter: fame has not always been easy for affleck. some years ago when he was living a hard partying lifestyle thinking he would be testifying before congress about congo would have been ridiculous. five or six years ago you're in tabloids. you didn't have a wife. you didn't have kids and now
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your focus is much different and i'm just wondering what the switch was. >> well, you know, i mean my wife would say it's her but, you know, you get a little older and you learn things and i hadn't returned enough. i hasn't done anything. i sort of felt like a shell of a person walking around this whole life is preoccupation about themselves and what they were doing and i had this feeling that, you know, i don't want to die and this is what i've done. i want to contribute something substantive to the world. yeah, i'm in a different place. i'm a different person. >> reporter: his interest was sparked when he read about darfur. >> there would be parentheticals, obviously this isn't as bad as the terrible crisis, ongoing millions of deaths in congo. i thought, wait a minute, how could there be this other thing and complete silence? and media darkness. >> reporter: he visited a number of times including in 2008 with "nightline."
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>> what's life like here in this camp for people on a day-to-day basis? >> reporter: last may he took the unusual step of starting his nonprofit. so let's go back to the first question i asked affleck, why should you watch him talk about this? >> people will dying. really dying and have been for a long time. 15 year, three plus million people have died. i don't know that i can make any more argument about why you should pay attention to this. at a certain point, you know, it just seems morally self evident. it's one thing to know as i say i did, look, i wasn't aware of it. it's another thing, women and girls are being raped all the time as if it's just a matter of course. that's just not okay. that's why people should pay attention. it has nothing to do with ben affleck. i'm irrelevant. >> reporter: he's not, of course. he's most likely why you watch this story and for that, thanks, ben. this is jake tapper for "nightline" in washington. >> ben affleck, make sure to
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watch "good morning america" tomorrow morning. ben affleck will be live with cindy mccain on their work in the congo. thanks to jake tapper for that. up next a star going in a very different direction. charlie sheen was fired today. luckily he literally gets paid to tweet. that's the sign of the times. i can't breathe... so i can't sleep... and the next day i pay for it. i tried decongestants... i tossed & turned... i even vaporized! and then i fought back: with drug-free breathe right advanced. these nasal strips instantly opened my nose, like a breath of fresh air. i was breathing and sleeping better! [ female announcer ] exercise your right to breathe right... get two free strips at hey, it's your right to breathe right! get two free strips at today, investors want retirement planning on their terms. i want to work with people who are objective. how about a plan with my name on it... not someone else's. can we start with realistic goals please? and research that's strictly third party.
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well, charlie sheen lost his day job today. the actor was fired from the sitcom "two and a half men" effective immediately. it might be hard for sheeng to replace the nearly $2 million per episode that role brought him but he's already on to at least one source of income and for john donvan that is a sign of the times. >> reporter: if we all got paid per outrage. >> it's all like donkey kong.
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>> reporter: outrage committed or outrage voiced say a nickel per and have you seen charlie sheen's youtube channel. >> hello, duh. >> reporter: imagine how much wealthier he would be after the outrageous month he's just been through. >> i am on a drug. it's chauled carolina. >> reporter: his twitter account opened only six days ago and pasted 1 million followers in record time, really the guinness book of records verified that and then it doubled so of course it occurred to him i'll do commercials and pits up pictures of himself with juice and satellite tv and hot dogs and a rolex, perhaps in the hope that the makers of one of those products would pay for charlie sheen's endorsement. actually one business is, paid sheen to send this seeking an intern and directing applicants to the dotcom website. got more than 100,000 hits after that the amount they paid sheen was not disclosed. but then along comes a clever column in "esquire" proposing a formula for the value of a tweet
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on twitter, a company estimated to be worth 10 billion that may suggest sheen is close to a twitter fortune already. >> using my formula if charlie sheen were a stock, i would buy. >> reporter: let's make it easy and put it in the mathematical terms that "esquire" invented. dollar value of a single tweet equals followers over 27 times 51.28 divided the number of tweets you santa. that makes gaga word $29,000, that makes sheen's sheets worth around $51,000. maybe he has a way out because, of course, tweets are worth more than, you know, real stuff made in factories like cars or doughnuts or baseball bats though those things obviously could be worth more if you could get charlie sheen's endorsement. >> winning, winning, winning. >> reporter: i'm john donvan for "nightline" in washington. >> do the math, i guess. thanks to john for that report. and thank you for watching abc news. we hope you check in for


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